September 5, 2017
Television audience in Tamil Nadu recently witnessed a number of commercials made by an online matrimonial portal.
The matrimonial website’s commercials are nothing new for the present generation. But, this time the website was more specific of its target audience. The advertisement campaign saw a series of different commercials meant for different castes. It runs some 300 exclusive community sites for various castes and religions.
For the anti-caste activists, the advertisements that blatantly promote caste through visuals came as a rude shock.
“These days reports on caste and communal clashes carried by newspapers do not carry the names of the castes to avoid further provocation. But, on the same newspaper you can find the matrimonial advertisements specifying caste. Matrimonial sites always ask for caste of applicants looking for suitable partner. Even in general matrimonial sites, filling up the field on caste while you set up your profile is essential. It is very important to note that the same-caste marriages are what keeps the vile caste system still alive,”says J Mukil Thangam, a Chennai-based journalist.
The idea of caste-based matrimonial website it not something new; it has grown with technology, says CPI-ML leader C Mathivanan. “Previously, the marriage brokers fixed matches. Now, these sites have taken their role. They only prove how caste system can absorb technology and grow with it,” he explains.
From his association with people in the grassroots, he says, “There are many migration workers, especially in districts like Coimbatore and Tirupur who have married the one who they had met here.” With the world becoming a smaller place, societies, he says are coming together and inter-caste marriages are happening across the state.
Opposing same-caste marriages which are now fixed on the internet, Thiagu, Editor of Urimai Tamizh Desiyam, says, “They come with scientifically-proven health issues. Incidences of children born with genetic disorders in same-caste marriage are high,”he says.
On the contrary, there are also caste outfits that endorse the functioning of caste-based matrimonial websites. C Rajendran of Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi told The Covai Post, “They are very much necessary as 90 per cent of inter-caste marriages fail. A marriage can be successful only if someone marries within their caste, he claims.
Countering his argument, Thiagu says same-caste marriage is held only to protect patriarchy and private property and it does not vouch for success. “Do you really think that a couple living together just because the society would not accept divorce is a success? Do you think a woman staying in a physically abusive and patriarchal relationship with misogynistic nature is a success?,”he asks, further answering himself, “No. For people justifying same-caste marriages, this is what a successful marriage is made of. But a successful marriage is one that gives you the freedom to live with the one whom you love and break-up when you badly want to. If inter-caste marriage gives that freedom, then it should be embraced.”
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